Sant Tukaram Maharaj Abhang Gatha Part 1
Jagadguru Santshresht Shri Tukaram Maharaj's Abhang Gatha - Part 1
Publisher Bharat Bhushan
Book contributor Bharat Bhushan
Notes Sant Tukaram Maharaj
Tuka, or Tukaram, was born in 1598 in Dehu, a village near Pune, on the banks of the Indrayani River. His parents were poor farmers and were known to be poor and charitable. Their family deity was Vithoba or Panduranga. Tukaram’s first marriage took place when he was only fifteen years old. His wife and son died of starvation in a famine in the region. His second wife was Jeejabai.
Devoted to spiritual thought, Tukaram found it difficult to make his way through his worldly responsibilities as a trader and farmer. He studied the written works of Jnaneswar, Namdev and Eknath, the foremost Bhakti saints of Maharashtra. Tukaram received his spiritual guidance from Shri Raghava Chaitanya. It is said that he received this vigorous and very detailed and specific guidance in his dreams.
Subsequent to intense contemplation in isolation, Tukaram began to compose his abhangs, devotional stanzas or poetry, to convey his bhakti to Panduranga. He felt that he could not focus on God if he continued with his material world. He wished to remain away from his worldly life and took up the path of singing and chanting the glory of Panduranga. Being able to visualize the deity everywhere and in every object, he surrendered completely to the aspect of devotion.
He challenged the times of those days and the aspect of condemning human discrimination was of utmost importance in his abhangs. He declared that hatred of humans because of their birth, caste, class, wealth and religion could not lead one to realization of God. He faced enmity, jealousy, hatred and discrimination from the learned and from others due to aspects of birth, caste and wealth. He was questioned as to his right in interpreting the Vedas, the sacred books, since he was not born in the ‘correct’ caste or class.
A splendid narration is that in which Tukaram is forced to discard and throw away his abhangs written on palm-leaf manuscripts into the Indrayani River. He does so at the steps of the river near Dehu village. [This site and temple is in existence today.] Having done so, Tukaram sat at the banks of the river in absolute contemplation of his deity, Panduranga, and refused to accept defeat. He claimed that the responsibility now lay with Panduranga, since the abhangs were written as offerings to Him.
In a miracle, Panduranga himself is said to have met Tukaram at the steps of the Indrayani River and affirmed that the abhangs would return from within the waters. And, they did.
It was the times and rule of Chatrapati Shivaji, and the great King did meet Tukaram and sought spiritual and ethical guidance. This meeting of the two great sons of Maharashtra is also termed as the meeting of bhakti (devotion) with shakti (strength).
This is only a very brief introduction to the greatness and wisdom and clarity of Sant Tukaram Maharaj. There are several better writers and knowledge-seekers who have described his life, writings and thoughts in much more detail.
Abridged and placed for open access with permission of Shri Sant Tukaram Maharaj Sansthan (Shri Kshetra Dehu, Pune)
The document is in the Marathi Language.